How to Write a Scope Statement

Once your stakeholder requirements for a project have been captured, documented and approved, you need to define the scope for the project. It is critical to craft a concise and complete statement of scope that documents what the project will produce and what it will not. The scope statement will provide the basis for project planning. If the scope is not captured correctly, potentially costly changes will need to be made later in the project life in order to satisfy stakeholder expectations.

Project scope is defined as the work that will be performed to deliver the result of the project. The project scope statement is a more elaborate narrative of the work and includes the:

  1. Project objectives
  2. Project description
  3. Requirements defined in the previous section
  4. Major deliverables to be produced
  5. Criteria that deliverables must meet if they are to be accepted
  6. Known constraints
  7. Assumptions

Documenting the scope statement illustrates the concept of progressive elaboration. The process of creating the scope statement begins with the information captured in the project charter, which contains the high level scope as it was known. As stakeholders were engaged in the requirements elicitation process, the elements of scope became more defined and clear. As the requirements were analyzed, reviewed, prioritized, and approved, the scope was refined and clarified even more.

The scope statement then, documents this more refined and more detailed understanding of what the project is expected to produce. To create the scope statement:

  1. Review the requirements documentation and refine the project objectives.
  2. Ensure all objectives are captured and validated with stakeholders.
  3. Review the stakeholder analysis documentation to ensure all stated expectations align with the project objectives.
  4. For expectations that do not align with objectives, document them as being outside the scope of the project.
  5. Review the requirements documentation and determine if any adjustments to priorities or other elements are necessary so they align with the project objectives and stakeholder expectations.
  6. Document the work products (deliverables) that will be produced.
  7. Document the acceptance criteria that the deliverables are expected to meet.
  8. Document the process that will be used to review and approve deliverables as they are produced.
  9. Establish the major milestone dates where major deliverables will be produced (these can be required dates or used as goals for future planning).
  10. Review, refine, and document known risks, assumptions, and constraints that will need to be considered in future planning.

Once the elements above are documented in the scope statement, the document should be distributed to stakeholders for final review and approval.

When approved, use the scope statement to guide decisions on what work will and will not be done during the project. Also use the scope statement as the basis to determine when the work of the project is complete, and whether that work is accepted.

Author: James Muller

Jim Muller has been working as a Project/Program Manager for over 20 years. He has managed projects for IT/IT as well as on the business side. Projects ranged from $100 million IS development program, mergers and acquisitions, the launch of business products, and physical relocations of business units. Jim has also worked on the development of internal PM Methodologies, implemented a Project Management Office, and continually provided coaching and mentoring for project management staff. Jim has provided project management training for companies as well as teaching at the university level.

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